In Ayer’s debut supernatural-horror novel, a world-famous novelist seemingly has it all, but he still wants much, much more.
Walt Erickson’s ambition is almost as powerful as his novels, which enthrall millions of readers. But his girlfriend, Marie Moreau, knows that his life is actually a tangled web of secrets. It seems that Erickson; his genial agent, Mitch Conner; and a former Black Ops commando named Ian White are making use of an old, manual “Wordsmith” typewriter that’s forever warm to the touch and has terrible effects on anyone who touches its keys. As Erickson and company go about their bizarre business of producing murderously irresistible page-turners, Marie learns more and more about the man she loves. As Erickson’s carefully woven fabric of deception unravels, she begins to question how much she truly knows him at all. Erickson and his associates, in turn, face one ethical question after another, which all boil down to one simple idea: what would you do in the name of fame and wealth, and what price would you refuse to pay? As things get more complicated, Marie must find her own answers—or die in the attempt. In this novel, Ayer delivers a fast-paced plot that takes multiple turns, and he supports it with a cast of believable, well-defined players and solid, realistic dialogue. The tale does have an unsympathetic central character, but this fact is offset by its fantastic, entertainingly horrific premise—one that Ayer has clearly thought through in detail. He also uses the third-person narration to handle the story’s grislier aspects in a pleasingly matter-of-fact way: “It was not likely that someone would find the body buried in the middle of the desert, so smell was not really a concern. But he wanted the body to decompose as fast as possible.”
A suspenseful, imaginative, and well-told horror story.